It seems we can't go more than a few days without hearing news of another active shooter incident in the U.S. It's not something any of us want to imagine, but having a plan and knowing what to do in this type of situation could give you a better chance of survival.
Fight the Freeze
At the first sound of gunfire or sight of an armed intruder, the gross majority of humans will freeze, even if just for an instant. This is natural part of our human response to a threat, and it's nothing to be ashamed of. The important thing is to be aware that it might happen, and to make sure we don't get stuck there. The best way to get through the freeze is to re-engage our thinking brain. Having a plan of action gives us something to recall and do just that.
Run, Hide, Fight
Recognizing the importance of having a simple, accessible, and clear plan, the FBI established Run, Hide, Fight as the mantra for active shooter safety. Though iterations of this concept are taught by various law enforcement agencies and/or for specific audiences (like school children), they all convey roughly the same message.
RUN: Your first and best option is always to get out of harm's way. If you can safely make it an exit, do so. This is one reason why it's so important to always familiarize yourself with your surroundings and be aware of exit locations. When you reach a safe location, call 911.
HIDE: If you can't get to an exit safely, do whatever you can to hide. This may be difficult depending on your location, but your objective is to conceal yourself and if possible put distance and obstacles between you and the assailant. If you are hiding, remember to silence any devices that could give your location away.
FIGHT: In some cases, you may have no other choice but to fight. If you can't run or hide, be prepared to fight like your life depends on it, because it does. Look for heavy objects nearby that you might be able to use to defend yourself. Work together with others when possible. Remember, there is strength in numbers.
Spread the Word
If you are a parent or hang out with any school-aged individuals, odds are they know this mantra well and have practiced it in school. Those of us who were born before the 90s, however, likely got "stop, drop, and roll" and that was about it. The good news is, the old adage is wrong, old dogs can learn new tricks and in this case, we really should.
Whenever an active shooter incident occurs, we hear people asking 'how could this have happened again?' and 'what we can do to stop it?' These are all extremely important and relevant questions. Another question we should all start asking ourselves and our loved ones is 'what would you do if you were there?' It may be uncomfortable at first, but anything we do for the first time will be. The fact is, the more we talk about our emergency plans, the easier it will be to recall them when needed. Plus, by sharing this information with others, we are helping each other become more resilient, and who knows, possibly saving a life.